First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter [with First Order TIE Fighter Pilot] (Wal - Hasbro - Star Wars [The Last Jedi] (2017)
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Can Episode IX Heal The Fandom?

Star Wars Episode IX will hit theaters in 14 months from now. Filming is underway, some set photos have been leaked, but other than more or less unsubstantiated rumors we know next to nothing about the actual plot of the movie. And in true JJ Abrams fashion this will probably not change until the release date.

The question is, what are your expectations about Episode IX? Do you believe it may heal the rift in the fandom that opened up after The Last Jedi? Do you believe it may be a satisfying conclusion to the sequel trilogy? Or do you simply don’t care anymore and want the sequels to be over, so we can finally move on? Click through for a discussion about Episode IX and the inherent issues the movie has to overcome.

The Last HJedi duel between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker

The New vs The Old

Reading fan reactions online is always a tricky thing. The comments are neither representative of fandom as a whole nor are they in any way unbiased. But nevertheless, one comment you come across quite a lot of times is… “I simply don’t care anymore about Episode IX”. I read or heard that so many times that I start to worry that a non trivial percentage of fans might simply choose not to bother with Episode IX in theaters, similar to what happened to Solo.

I admit to feeling somewhat like this as well. I am genuinely wondering how Episode IX might resolve things and why I should even care anymore. The way I see it these are the possible outcomes of Episode IX (at least the most likely outcomes), I list the possible endings in descending order of likelihood:

  1. Rey beats Kylo, yet again, and he is killed, the FO is in shambles and the New New Republic will take over
  2. Kylo is redeemed, but dies, Hux is then the leader of a very weakened First Order which is subsequently defeated because of the incompetence of Hux and his lackeys
  3. Kylo is redeemed and Rey and Kylo come to some kind of truce or agreement (or maybe they become lovers) and the conflict between light and dark is resolved by becoming “grey”, disregarding all the ancient Jedi and Sith teachings and building something new built on the foundatins of both teachings
  4. JJ Abrams will not resolve all plot points, there will be unanswered questions and some kind of cliffhanger, so that things can continue in a few years from now, there is no ultimate defeat
  5. Kylo with his FO beats Rey and the Resistance and brings peace and order to the galaxy and he will finish what Darth Vader started (even though Palpatine started it all)
  6. Kylo and Rey discover they both had an aunt called Mar’Tha and become best friends forever (given that Chris Terio who penned Batman v Superman is co-writing the script)

The issue with the most likely endings is…. it’s either something we’ve seen before in the sequel trilogy (Kylo lost to Rey in The Force Awakens already and you can argue that he also lost in The Last Jedi to her, since she recovered consciousness sooner than him and could have easily killed him them) or it’s something that mirrors Return of the Jedi (Kylo is redeemed, but dies). Of course, JJ Abrams may choose to subvert this and go any of the other routes. But the ultimate question is… why should we care?

It can’t be denied that a good portion of the fanbase was and is still heavily invested in the original trilogy characters, Luke, Leia and Han. Han is already dead, Leia will most certainly die or be written out of the story in IX, which leaves Force ghost Luke and Lando, who will most likely only have a minor role, given the age of the actor and the overall importance of Lando to the story as a whole. But what role will Luke play as a dead Jedi? My guess: he’ll be Rey’s Obi-Wan and do almost nothing in the movie, since the sequels drove home their point time and time again: this is Rey’s and Kylo’s story, so Luke taking the spotlight in IX seems very unlikely, it’s no longer his story. Luke can’t fight (or defeat) Kylo, since this is Rey’s ultimate fate, her confrontation with Kylo will most likely be the climax of the movie. So why should we be excited about something (Rey defeating Kylo) that we have seen before?

Also, IX has yet another thing going against it: is someone who lost to an untrained girl without any Jedi training whatsoever in the first sequel movie a credible threat in Episode IX? Kylo Ren is not an uninteresting character, but, and this is my opinion, he’s not really main villain material. He’s the conflicted henchman in the mold of Darth Vader. But The Last Jedi removed the Big Bad from the equation, which leaves Kylo as the only real villain. His emo outbursts and lacking leadership quality make him a bad candidate to be Episode IX’s main villain, however. And it has already been shown and proven that he can’t defeat Rey, who will only grow stronger in the time after The Last Jedi. Compare that with the original trilogy, and even the prequels, where the henchmen defeated the heroes, including the Chosen One, after years of training, the Chosen One with a midichlorian count higher than Yoda, so that their final victory over Dooku (and Obi-Wan’s defeat of Maul in The Phantom Menace) felt much more deserved.

So, will Episode IX be able to rekindle interest in Star Wars, which seems to be at an alltime low after Solo disappointed in theaters, or will IX come and go and don’t leave much of an impression? Will many fans simply want to get over the sequels as quickly as possible, so we can move on to an all new Star Wars that is not beholden to the original trilogy and offers us some truly new things?

Do you think Abrams has what it takes to give us a movie that will heal the fandom? Might Abrams retcon some of the things that happened in The Last Jedi even, to win back the hardcore fans, the ones who also buy merchandise? Or do you feel that only whatever movie comes next (probably something by Benioff/Weiss) will reunite the fandom, since the sequels are a lost cause and much too similar to the original trilogy?

In the end it all boils down to this: do you feel excitement for Episode IX? If yes, what makes you feel excited? Rey’s defeat of Kylo, again? Rey’s possible union with Kylo, again? And if not, what could Abrams do to get your attention and to rekindle the excitement for the conclusion of the sequel trilogy? Make Luke the main hero? Where can Episode IX and ultimately Star Wars go from where we are now?

Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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